EA gets casual with ex-ATVI exec

Former Activision Publishing president Kathy Vrabeck tapped to lead new division focused on nontraditional gamers; analysts approve.

by

Kathy Vrabeck

Electronic Arts is getting hardcore about casual gaming. The world's largest third-party publisher has announced the formation of EA Casual Entertainment, a new division established to provide "quick-to-the-fun" games intended for nontraditional gaming audiences. To lead the new division, EA has tapped Kathy Vrabeck, former president at Activision Publishing, where she oversaw the EA rival's worldwide development studios.

Electronic Arts is no stranger to the casual market, with its Pogo.com casual gaming portal boasting more than 11 million monthly users. There's also EA Mobile, formerly Jamdat, which EA acquired in 2005 for $680 million. Finally, The Sims' audience extends well outside the core gamer demographic, and it stands as one of gaming's most successful gaming franchises--casual or otherwise--having sold more than 85 million copies since its 2000 debut.

EA Casual Entertainment will develop and publish games for consoles, PCs, handhelds, and mobile phones. The publisher will announce games, franchises, and licenses for its new division at a later date.

Analysts reacted to the news favorably. Lazard Capital Markets' Colin Sebastian praised the pickup of a "proven industry leader" like Vrabeck, adding that the move provides some insight into which direction recently appointed CEO John Riccitiello wants to take the company.

Nollenberger Capital Partners' Todd Greenwald called Vrabeck a "solid hire," and said the move should help EA leverage casual content it already owns, such as Harry Potter, The Sims, Pogo, and EA Mobile's Tetris for cell phones. However, Greenwald also said that EA isn't exactly the first company to embrace the casual market, noting the successes of Ubisoft, THQ, and Majesco in courting that demographic.

Discussion

23 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
gnutux
gnutux

The casual games market has the people, but not enough demand yet. If it grows, then the hardcore market will eventually shrink as more companies shift to the new paradigm shift that casual gamers are gamers too.

rokkuman09
rokkuman09

Casual games? Some can be fun, but hopefully companies don't forget how big of a market us hardcore gamers are.

Kravyn81
Kravyn81

One night with me and she'd be straight for life ;)

reactionsok
reactionsok

not sure if i'd hit it. she has a lesbian thing going on

reactionsok
reactionsok

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Hvac0120
Hvac0120

I think it's a good thing EA is doing this. I just hope that this doesn't turn out to be just another way for the company to nickel and dime customers into more of their money like they have been doing for the past 2 years. I'm not sure if I like this 'new direction' that Riccitiello is taking the company or the industry. When you start charging for cheat codes, you've gone too far. This is great news for casual gamers, but possibly bad news for all the other gamers that may have to pay the price for content (such as downloadable content from Xbox Live Marketplace) because of the success of these games. Maybe EA will stop with the horrible DLC pricing due to an uprise of sales in their casual games division?... I hope so.

smoothn00dle
smoothn00dle

Kathy Vrabeck, little did she know, she likely be label as loser back in the day of FPS. Now is on top. Thanks to Wii.. EA is not a casual game company without their sport license advantage, Nintendo eat them for breakfast. P.S is the Sim casual game??

GonzoGuy
GonzoGuy

Great plan. There's allot of casual gamers that would lap up licenced stuff like Harry Potter. So many potterheads don't game but that (as well as the latest Hogwarts GTA style game) will pull them into the market.

amogley
amogley

Casual Games ... it's almost a term of derision !

raynard_muldrat
raynard_muldrat

Shouldn't FIFA or any other of their annually updated games be added to that list, I wasn't really aware they done all that many hardcore gamers games really

imautobot
imautobot

I wouldn't kick her out of my bed.

Redsyrup
Redsyrup

"Casual"? Send in the Wii Play Clones. Innovate please.

RaiKageRyu
RaiKageRyu

I was wondering when EA was going to capitalize on this.

Koroshiya-San
Koroshiya-San

xVxObliVioNxVx: That's why I wrote "created". duh.. And I don't really agree that the casual market started on the PC. You've got the arcades, the NES, Gameboy, bardgames or whatever that attracted the casuals long before PC-card games and The Sims.

Pete5506
Pete5506

Hope this helps them out

ElectrolightSH
ElectrolightSH

With a woman in charge of the casual market, EA will be making even more money, money EA doesn't really need.

xVxObliVioNxVx
xVxObliVioNxVx

Koroshiya-San: "They are doing what everybody else are doing. Going after the market Nintendo created." Nintendo did not create the casual market. The casual market jump started within the PC online industry way before Nintendo even considered appealing to casual gamers.

Koroshiya-San
Koroshiya-San

They are doing what everybody else are doing. Going after the market Nintendo "created". I see nothing bad about it, and seeing how EA has been the most talented publisher on the Wii, and in some instances the DS, they are certainly welcome, when they are actually trying out new things and new IPs. I prefer support from EA rather than Ubisoft after they have screwed everyone in the arse.

puppiemaster
puppiemaster

Take it they are making loads for the wii and DS then

pungaboy
pungaboy

Insert uninformed, biased anti-EA post here.